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“Why we cannot support the ‘Heathens Against Hate’ web ring… and why we don’t think you should either”

I kept seeing them when I went to Heathen web pages… little well crafted logos usually at the bottom of a page with the slogan ‘Heathens Against Hate’. Needless to say my interest was peeked and I decided to see what this was all about. The premise seemed sound, Heathens proudly declaring that they were opposed to the small, but often loud, group of people constantly trying to inject their ideologies into the larger Heathen culture. But then I read the description more closely and I found many problems with their statement of intent. I would like to address each of these problems in detail and let the reader decide.

“The groups to which I refer claim to be Asatru or Norse Heathen when in fact they do not practice the Old Northern traditions, and by their actions make it clear that they neither grasp the true nature of Paganism nor know the ways of the Old Gods.”

Neither grasps the true nature of Paganism nor knows the ways of the old gods? I think it awfully presumptuous of a person to say that they know the true nature of anything, let alone something as numinous as ‘Paganism’. Heathenism is a polytheistic religion, and as such has ‘poly’ (many) views and interpretations, none of them more true than the next. It appears to me that the author is the one who does not grasp the nature of ‘Paganism’ because they are bogged down with what I call “mono-thought”. Heathens may not agree with each other, but we don’t have heretics because our religion is ultimately a very personal one free from dogma and “thou shall not” statements.

First, there are what I call "Nazitru" groups (avowed Nazis who yet call themselves Heathens), who abuse our holy symbols and our Gods' names to promote their own totalitarian political agendas.

Call them what you like, but you can’t say whether or not they are Heathen. The reason is quite simple: Heathenism is a religion, not a political institution. I know Libertarian Heathens, Republican Heathens, Democratic Heathens, Communist Heathens, Socialist Heathens, and even a few who are members of the Green Party. My political views aren’t the same as theirs’ but I would never presume to say they were not Heathen based on their political ideology… would you? As for the abuse of ‘our’ holy symbols and gods’ names… well all I can say is “when did we become the sole proprietors, fit to decide who can use these symbols and names?”. We don’t own them; we use them. These symbols and names are more ancient than we, and have been in the public domain longer than we have been around.

Next, there are certain Satanist/Setian groups who foolishly attempt to associate Odin with their system, which is not Northern at all, but merely a reactionary perversion of Judeo-Christian traditions and ceremonial magic.

Well, this one is going to take some time to explain so I ask the humble reader to bear with me. First of all we need to define what Satanism is and what it is not. First, Satanism is not a perversion (or even an inversion, which is what I think the author was really trying to say) of Judeo-Christian religions, but a philosophical antinomian reaction to it. I have never met a Satanist who ‘worships the Devil”, if anything the idea of worshipping any entity is an anathema to Satanists. Satanists revel in the self… and worship the self. Perhaps it is an inversion of Judeo-Christian if you think of Christianity as a self-abasing philosophy (which it is)… but the same could be said of Buddhism. So do Satanists use the Heathen gods? No. This leads us into part two of our clarification section: Setianism.

Okay, now we know that Satanists worship the self and the same thing can be said of Setians… being a break off of Satanism proper. A Satanist will tell you “I was born a god” but a Setian will tell you “I am becoming a god”. The word Xeper, used by Setians as a model, literally means, “to become”. Setians believe that the self is a god in potentia and like all things needs to be honed and shaped into its final form. This all comes from the heavy influence of Plato on Dr. Michael Aquino’s (founder of the Temple of Set) philosophy. Plato often spoke of ‘forms’ as idealized things… and from this comes the idea of the ‘first form’, or the originating ideal. Dr. Aquino identified this first form as the Archetypical “Prince of Darkness” which can be found in most culture’s mythologies. This is the spirit of discontent with the status quo, the ultimate spirit of ‘self’ that separates ‘itself’ from the natural order in order to ‘know itself’. This archetype was known as Set to the Egyptians, Prometheus to the Greeks, and Wóden to the Germanic peoples. They aren’t dealing with the actual deities here, just the idea of said deities. And they don’t equate all these PoDs (Princes of Darkness) with each other. Just as no two people can obtain self-actualization in the same way, no two deities can. The deities are used by Setians as ‘road maps’ to said self-actualization. Setians, like Satanist find the idea of worshipping a deity distasteful… but they aren’t above following their example.

So are these people really foolishly trying to associate Wóden with their ‘systems’? I don’t think there is anything foolish about their pursuits and because we don’t own Wóden… who are we to say they are wrong or foolish? Truth be known, most Setians I have had the pleasure to meet are better educated and better versed in ‘the Lore’ than most Heathens I know. It’s all about perspective and what you want to get out of ‘the lore’, which once again is public domain and free for anyone to use.

There is the "Black Metal" music phenomenon also. Some (but not all) black metal groups claim to be "Heathen", only to use this as an excuse for the avocation of violence, especially against Christians.

I hardly think it necessary to comment on a bunch of angry disenchanted teenagers, but since the subject was brought up... Anything that jars a person out of their Christian imposed slumber is a good thing in my opinion. Quite often such “anti” stances will leave a person feeling hollow after a while, and it is often at this point that they will look towards more life affirming and happy religions such as ours. To put it simply… “let them blow the stink off before they come into the hall”. As for violence against Christianity, all I have to say is that Christianity wrote its wyrd long before I was born.

In addition to those hate-mongers who wrongly assume the name of Heathen, there are a few people of other faiths who promote hatred of us because we are Heathen. Heathens and Pagans the world over continue to suffer prejudicial treatment because of our religion.

People of all religions face some degree of prejudicial treatment somewhere in the world, at any given time. This isn’t due to the fact that we are Heathens and they are something else… it has to do with human ignorance and fear of the unknown. Kind of like calling people foolish and stupid for being Satanist/Setian!

To this day, those who practice the old native ethnic religions strive to overcome two thousand years of oppression by fundamentalist religious zealots, who from the beginning of the organized Christian church systematically attempted to eradicate the Pagan religions from the face of the Earth.

Okay, let’s get a few things straight. First, we are not an ‘old religion’ we are a new religion based on an old one. If we are to ever grow as a religion we need to stop looking at our ‘golden age’ and start trying to make a new one. All this talk of ‘they are out to oppress us, look at their track record” isn’t going to get us anywhere. Even Christianity was oppressed in the beginning, but it stuck it out and got on with becoming an accepted and respected faith. Let’s follow suit. Live a good life and folks will respect you… regardless of your religion.

This whole campaign is a jumble and mish-mash of ideas, poorly presented, and ultimately contradictory in its goal. We can’t fight hate with hate, and we can’t meet inflammatory words with the same. This is why we cannot associate with the ‘Heathens Against Hate’ web ring… and we hope you will refuse to do so as well.

“Who ever goes in search of monsters should see to it that they do not become a monster themselves, and when you look into the abyss know that it also looks into you.” – Nietzsche

Wassail

Brian Smith
Wéofodþegn Einauga Kindred